Meditation: a Simple process to Reduce Stress, Improve Wellbeing and Reduce the risk of Chronic Disease
Meditation is one of those things many of us say we should do. Meditation is a tool for moving us towards a richer life, one where we can cope with what life throws at us with greater composure and poise.
And there are plenty of reasons to take up meditation and to make it daily habit. Our modern busy lives are often also stressful and chronic stress is implicated in 90% of chronic diseases.
Of its many benefits, meditation can help us to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Improve brain function
- Find it easier to keep our weight stable
- Improve physical, emotional and mental health
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Relax more, even in stressful situations
- Find a sense of satisfaction in our lives
- Discover ourselves
Quite often many people find it difficult to meditate. My clients frequently report that they have trouble stilling their mind’s. Don’t worry, this is normal.
The truth is that mediation is not really about having a perfectly still mind but rather it is a process of observing our thought processes with the aim of quietening the “inner chatter” so that we can gain new insights
It’s a case of sticking with it – some days you may feel perfectly calm and at ease, others the mind races from one thought to another. This busy chatty mind is known as the “monkey mind”. Believe me I know those days quite well.
Honestly the best thing to do is simply to start, and make a commitment to sitting and attempting to meditate every day.
Here are a few simple tips on how to begin to relax and meditate:
- If you are completely new to meditation, make sure you have a set aside a certain amount of time that is completely free of distractions (turn off the phone and computer). Start with smaller amounts of time, say five or 10 minutes, and work your way towards 20 minutes, 30 minutes, or whatever feels good.
- Sit comfortably – on a chair is fine – no need to sit in the lotus position. Make sure you keep your spine straight, but relaxed.
- Rest your hands in your lap or on your knees. Traditionally it if you place your palms down, it helps to calm the mind; open palms places you in a position to receive.
- Close your eyes.
- Breath. Focus on your breath.
- Make a detailed mental tour of your body, relaxing each part in turn.
- Sometimes it helps to repeat a mantra – this can be a positive affirmation. However it can be as simple as saying quietly in your head “Calm” on the in breath and “relax” on the out breath. Continue repeating Calm and Relaxed as you sense the wave of relaxation move down your body.
Do you find yourself thinking during meditation? Of course you are!
Meditation serves to make us aware of how busy our minds are. It’s just so tempting to follow the thoughts and get caught up with them. Whenever you feel yourself doing this, bring your attention back to your breath, or your mantra if you have chosen one.
Generally it’s better to meditate well for five – 10 minutes than badly for an hour! So bear this in mind. If you find that after about 10 minutes your mind just really won’t shut up, stop for the day.
So you see it’s not rocket science. All it takes is a bit discipline, commitment and the knowledge that it can only benefit your life.
If you are finding it hard, don’t feel discouraged. Many of us struggle with stilling the mind.
If you have a very busy mind you may find it initially easier to begin a moving mediation such as Yoga, Tai-Chi or Qigong. These practices focus on slow focused movements that require your concentration. This can help to prepare the body for meditation.
Similarly you could make use of the many meditation processes that are now available on CDs, podcasts. There are even apps for your phone that can help get you started.
Several research studies have shown that there is benefit derived for novice mediators by being in a group. So look out in your local community for a meditation class.
By incorporating some form of meditation into your daily life you will be rewarded with the benefits of reduced stress, better health, a clearer mind and improved brain function to name a few.
Please remember that anxiety and feeling very stressed may also be a sign of hormonal imbalance, thyroid imbalance, adrenal fatigue stress or poor diet.
Supporting you to Flourish